WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN - From bow to stern, the Assault Division aboard amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) maintains and operates some of the largest mission-critical equipment on the ship, but for many Sailors, the Assault Division mission is something of a mystery.
Assault Division consists of twelve Sailors. Eleven machinist’s mates and one electrician’s mate who are essential to Boxer’s ability to conduct amphibious assault operations. They are a division of Engineering department that is responsible for maintenance on the ship’s stern gate, which is imperative for launching and recovering landing craft, air cushion (LCAC).
“We’re here to support amphibious assault operations,” said Senior Chief Machinist’s Mate Shawn Seabron, the leading chief petty officer of Assault Division. “We perform maintenance that allows the opening and closing of the stern gate for the LCAC’s to depart and return to Boxer.”
Assault Division’s responsibility spans the entire length of the ship. They are accountable for the operability of several pieces of mission-critical equipment.
“We have a lot of very important equipment like the stern gate and aircraft elevators,” said Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Christopher Samuelsz. “If we don’t perform required maintenance, we’re putting the ship’s mission at risk.”
During restricted maneuvering doctrine (RMD) or sea and anchor detail, Assault division Sailors stand watches in the anchor windlass, as well as in aft steering.
“Every time we go to do an RMD or a sea and anchor detail, we have to do our required check. During a restricted maneuvering doctrine, we have to make sure everything is functioning right by making sure all the rudder angle indicators are projecting the correct readings and all the pumps are working properly,”
said Samuelsz. “For a sea and anchor detail, we have to check all of the rudders in aft steering by checking
incremental degrees of rudder angle to assure all of the readings are correct on all displays.”
Assault Division also operates together with Deck department during evolutions. When a major evolution
occurs, Assault Division is present to ensure the mission is performed smoothly.
“We work closely with Deck department to drop the anchor whenever the ship gets anchored, and when
opening and closing the stern gates during LCAC operations,” said Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Austin
Schwarz, assigned to Assault division. “We also work with Air department and Weapons department
when they have to move aircrafts or any ordnance.”
Weapons department is also supported by Assault Division. The cargo weapons elevators used to
transport ordnance is another piece of equipment maintained by Assault Division.
“If our cargo weapons elevators aren’t working, we’re unable to send ordnance to the flight deck,” said
Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Michael Guidinger. “You never really see how important the
maintenance on those elevators are until they are inoperable and the mission is put to a halt.”
The stern gate is a major component for amphibious operations. Without it, one of Boxer’s main missions
is down for the count.
“Maintenance on the stern gate is critical; if there was a problem with the stern gate and it is unable to
lower, then we cannot kick out of the well deck and get the MEU [Marine Expeditionary Unit] and their
gear to the beach,” said Senior Chief Aviation Electrician’s Mate Cody Schultz, Craftmaster for LCAC LC90.
“Without the engineer’s upkeep and maintenance on the stern gate, and keeping it in good working order,
conducting operations may happen slower or even not at all.”
Assault Division operates in many parts of the ship, which can be challenging for the 12 Sailors
They must be at the top of their game to complete their required maintenance.
“All of the Sailors are professionals; they understand what their task is and how substantial our
equipment is to the ship’s mission,” said Seabron. “They get all of their maintenance done on time and
make sure all of the equipment is up and running to support Boxer’s mission: amphibious assault.”